John Wesley recorded in his journal the names of at least seven artists and sculptors who painted his portrait. His diary also tells that he posed for other unnamed artists, describing these occasions in such terse entries as “the painter,” “sat for my picture,” and “on business, picture.” We also know that artists sketched him as he preached or presided over conferences. At times, he was aware of the presence of these artists, and at other times he was not. Other skilled sketchers scrutinized his physical features and then went to their workplaces to draw his image. During John Wesley’s lifetime a large (but unknown) number of artists studied him and painted, drew, engraved, or sculpted his likeness.
More than a century ago, the Wesley Historical Society Proceedings stated, “Probably no person, unless possibly the late Queen Victoria, ever lived of whom there are so many representations in the various forms of busts, portraits, medallions, likenesses on pottery, medals, book-markers, and other materials, as of John Wesley.” Writing about Wesley, Methodist scholar Frederick Gill declared, “Probably no other in history has left behind him such a quantity of traditional relics and reminders.” In the more than 300 years since Wesley’s birth, artists have continued creating new images of Methodism’s founder. The purpose of this book is to gather these likenesses of John Wesley into a single volume to make them more readily available to those interested in the known impressions of Methodism’s founder.